Sunday, 10 February 2013

London Day Trip: Phantom of the Opera

Despite being here almost 2 years and being about 2 hours away, we had yet to do a London day trip.  Now, we spent 3 nights in London a year ago and 8 nights last October, so it's not like we haven't been, but just not for the day.

The reason for the trip is likely obvious by now, but we decided to see the Phantom of the Opera during a matinee performance.   We went along with our friends the Seppanens who actually spearheaded the activity.  In order get decent seats all together, we purchased our tickets back in October.

The day went something like this:

7:30     leave house for train station
8:00     take train to London St. Pancras
9:30     arrive at St. Pancras; head to Tube
10:10   arrive at Victoria & Albert Museum (on the other side of town, South Kensington)
1:45     leave V&A and take Tube to Piccadilly Circus
2:30     Phantom of the Opera
5:15     dinner
8:10     Tube back to St. Pancras
9:00     take train back to Derby
11:30+ arrive in Derby (extra hour on the way back due to planned and unplanned stops)
12:00   home

As you can see, it makes for a long day but we were glad we did it.  Note that we split up from the Seppanens for the morning as we had different goals for the day.  Read Jay's version here.

It's always good to hang with the Seps.  The kids all get along well.  Occasionally they are more interactive than this.  The adults were a little more conversant.  Jay and I talk trip planning and Lori and Kuk talk shop (work).

Our morning destination was the Victoria & Albert Museum (stock photo).  We were able to get all the way there without setting foot outside (train, tube, underground walkway, basement entrance).  So, we didn't actually see this view!

From wiki, the V&A is the world's largest museum of decorative arts and design, housing a permanent collection of over 4.5 million objects. Named after Prince Albert and Queen Victoria, it was founded in 1852, and has since grown to cover 12.5 acres (51,000 m2) and 145 galleries. Its collection spans 5,000 years of art, from ancient times to the present day, in virtually every medium, from the cultures of Europe, North America, Asia and North Africa.   [No, we didn't try to see it all.]

I can't say what the main entrance looks like, but the one from the subway is eye catching.  Quite a bit of sculpture throughout this section.  We've determined that we are sculpture people so we enjoyed this area in general.   The pieces on the side were early Rodins.

How'd you like this 1930 bronze relief above your fireplace?
This figure of the celebrated quack doctor Joshua Ward (1686-1761) may have been intended as a monument in Westminster Abbey, which in the event was never erected.  Ward was a renowned philanthropist and opened two hospitals for the poor.  His hand gesture may indicated generosity, while his bulky figure suggests prosperity.  [Agostino Carlini, ~1760]

Moving to the Japanese section . . . this samurai warrior caught my eye (nice 'stache too).   Made in 1859 in the style of 1100-1200 AD.
I enjoyed explaining to my Korean food loving boy that these were traditional kim-chi pots that would have been buried in the ground while fermenting away.
Jay Seppanen pic:  St. George slaying the Dragon (plaster cast from Prague)  [this guy is everywhere]
mirror image porcelain dolls
Samson slaying a Philistine (~1562) by Giambologna
interesting spout for a lion, pipe and dragon

out of fashion by the mid 1700's but still required for royal engagements,  this dress took some deft maneuvering to get through doors and in/out of carriages, etc.
This one got an audible gasp from Kuk.  "What is that mother doing do her baby?"

Nicole:  <sigh>  Mommmmmmm.  That's Achilles.  His mom, Thetis, is dipping him into the River Styx.  Duh.  (at least she's learning something at school)

This is a 1790 sculpture by Thomas Banks.  The wife and child are in the images of his family.

Poor picture due to the glass, but interestingTippoo's Tiger.  The life-sized automaton of carved and painted wood represents a tiger devouring a prostrate European in 1790's dress.  A crank handle operates two mechanisms to move the man's joined arm and simulate roars and groans.  [What a nice musical toy . . . .]

The Gloucester Candlestick, commissioned 1107-1113.  The candlestick was commissioned by Abbot Peter and the monks of the Benedictine Abbey of St Peter, Gloucester.  In the foliage, men and monsters are shown in combat illustrating the struggle between light and darkness.  An inscription calls the candlestick a work of virtue and light, beaming out holy doctrine.  The symbols of the four evangelists point to their role as the sources of light.

Pretty impressive, especially since my first thought was Col. Mustard in the Ball Room.

I didn't note who this was.  It appears she has an itch on her leg (perhaps the snake?).

Enameled Ewer by Susane de Court (~1600), the only known women enameler in 16th century Limoges (France).

 Glass sculpture in main entryway, similar to the one in the Indianapolis Children's Museum.

 Notebook from Leonardo da Vinci
I found this threesome of Charles I a little creepy

amidst all the historical collections, we also have the costumes from the Lion King 

 and another

We enjoyed the museum.  It was a low-key affair.  It was well laid out and easy to get around.  Lunch at the cafe wasn't bad either.  The kids tolerated it more than liked it, but oh well.

Next up was the main event:  the Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty's Theatre [not my photo].  As you likely know, this is an Andrew Lloyd Weber Musical that started in 1986.  According to wiki, it is the longest running show in Broadway history and the second longest musical in London (to Les Miserables).  It has reached 10,000 performances in each location.  It's based on a french novel  from the early 1900s (interesting wiki link).

Kuk's a big fan of the music.  We've had the CDs for quite some time.  We saw it 1995 and 2001, both in Indianapolis.  We reunited with the Seppanens and enjoyed the show.  I wouldn't put it in the same class as Les Miserables or Lion King, but it was enjoyable (especially given our history with the show).

After the show, we all went to dinner at Andalucia's Tapas Restaurant which was just around the corner.  I thought tapas would be a nice way to enjoy good food and good company over a leisurely meal.  The food was great and we all enjoyed ourselves (though the bill was a little steep, as can happen when you graze on tapas all night).  For those going to London, I found it through which is a handy way to search by location and cuisine and has more local input that tripadvisor typically does.

Alas, it was a long day.  The train ride back seemed to take a long time.  The return train always does as it makes more stops.  There were also some mechanical issues that prolonged some of the stops further.  Oh well, at least we made it back safe and sound.  [this was just a little cat nap for Alex; he sprung back to life to the annoyance of most of us]

not much spring left with Kuk, I'm afraid

We almost had a disastrous return as knucklehead me accidently threw out my Derby parking ticket while we were in London.  There was no one manning the station so it looked like we might have to take a taxi back and pay the eye-watering lost ticket fee of £25 the next day.  Fortunately, I was able to buzz the intercom and the guy was too busy to sort it out, so he just let me through.  Phew.

Good times all around.  We should do this more often.  But then again, there's one reason we don't do it every weekend:

train tickets for 4, booked in advance:  £60
Tube fare:  £15
Museum:  free
Lunch:  £25
Theatre tickets for 4:  £220
Dinner:  £100 (can obviously eat for less)
Parking:  £6.50 (er, free)

Total:  £420 (about $660).  Definitely not an every weekend thing, but okay every now and then.  In fact, we've booked some good seats to Les Miserables for May.  Stay tuned.

Have a good week everyone.


  1. Very cool post!
    The Kim-chi pots made me think of Dae Jae Geum!
    And the glass sculpture like the Children's Museum! Were you surprised to encounter it? Same artist, I assume?
    And a new word ... Ewer!
    Thanks for sharing!!!

  2. Thanks, Christie. It was a fun day.

    Funny, I listened to the Dae Jae Geum sound track the other day on a walk. I'm ready to watch it again once we get back (no Hulu here).

    I didn't check the glass artist guy -- it sure looks similar, doesn't it?

  3. Same guy - from paragraphs 5 & 7 of this page:

    I'd love to watch Dae Jae Geum again too ... no time now to read subtitles! :) Someday ...